HomeRecord a CD: why wait?

brodymcd's picture

We all know that recording technology is cheaper and more accessible than ever. There are many “tips and tricks of recording” articles out there. This is not one of them.

This is one director's plea for more groups to take the plunge – get in the studio!

The best thing we ever did was record a CD. Recording our first CD was like flipping the switch on our  program... it has unimaginable power. At the heart of why you should record (in my humble opinion) is one sad fact – quality does not matter.

Well... let me clarify that statement. Quality does not matter to most people. What does matter to most people is not quality but the appearance of quality.

Don't get me wrong... you can't just record garbage. No one will buy garbage (or buy it for long), but – if you have a credible product at all, get it in the can. Start the cycle. I like to call it “the cycle of virtual improvement.”

No matter how basic a recording is, it will help your group immensely in the following ways:

  • Self-awareness: no matter how many rehearsal recordings you might do, a “for sale” recording creates ridiculous self-awareness. When my kids hear themselves laying down tracks in the studio, they immediately say “what have I been doing?” and then up their game. 
  • Public awareness: there is an immediate cache created as people think, “They must be good; they have a CD.” Also, your group will begin to pick up gigs and recognition: “I'm calling about hiring your a cappella group. My friend played me the CD he bought when they sang for the Rotary Club last month.” You can also use cuts from your CD as promotional material and for Web clips. 
  • Group awareness: In my opinion, the best part of the CD process is the eagerness of high-school kids to one-up each other. Each year, my students say, “We have to be better than last year's group. Just listen to that CD. We're going to have to work really hard.” Of course, this is a bit of a wild-goose chase. Recordings allow us to capture a group at its best. Heck, with today's technology of pitch correction, digital editing, reverb and audio effects  we can capture a group at better than its best. My 2008-2009 singers started their year competing with the previous group’s CD, which means they were busting their tails to be better than a studio recording. This phenomenon brings the speed of progression up considerably.

Now we come back to my previous statement: What does matter to most people is not quality but the appearance of quality. By making any type of recording that is even decent, you create the public perception that you are at least good. The three types of awareness mentioned above cause your group to progress during the year. You sing around, do gigs and sell CDs. Make sure the group knows: “If we don't sell at least X amount of CDs, we won't be able to record our own at the end of the year.” Trust me, they'll find a way to make it happen.

At the end of the year, you record again... lather, rinse, repeat.  All it takes is that brave first outing to get the ball rolling... so what are you waiting for?



Simply wonderful.  Brody, great post.  I'm simmering in the wisdom of your words.  Pondering how to apply this to every group I do, or ever will, work with.  Great stuff.

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